Chapter 4, Device 2. By working them to make false definitions of their graces. “You keep using that word. I do not think that word means what you think it means.” It’s one of the most recognizable lines from one of the most quotable movies in the history of cinema. And it perfectly illustrates the […]
We are sometimes like the paralytic by the pool at Bethesda, lying dejected, consumed by our weaknesses, with the Source of our healing in plain sight. Satan blinds us against the power of forgiveness by shining the glaring light of our sins in our faces.
But as Brooks reminds us, “A Christian should wear Christ in his bosom as a flower of delight, for he is a whole paradise of delight. He who minds not Christ more than his sin, can never be thankful and fruitful as he should.”
And so we have six remedies available to us, weapons against Satan’s hounding our minds about the sins that so easily entangle us. It is in dwelling on our Healer rather than on our disease that we will be made whole.
Our “performances” are the outworking of that collective sacrifice. We wouldn’t use this word today. It connotes images of entertainment, of performers on a stage playing roles and delivering rehearsed thoughts and ideas. Instead, we might think of these as “good works.”
Regardless of what we call them, the acts in which we engage should be fueled by grace, not law. But this is an idea Satan despises. In his hatred of God’s grace, he uses two tactics against us.
He tries to shackle us once again to a burdensome religious obligation. So he convinces us God will not be pleased with us unless we are always dutiful, always performing.
If that doesn’t work, he uses an opposing scheme. Satan will lure us into looking not to Christ as our assurance of salvation, but to the works God produces in us by faith. We become the object of our own worship.
It is this second tactic that is the subject of this device.
Right living and right believing depends on right thinking. And when you’re trying to devote yourself to God, Satan will try to distract you with what Thomas Brooks calls “vain thoughts.” These are worries, worldly cares, discouragements, and arguments against Christ and his kingdom. They can wear you down and “put you off” from serving the Lord. Winning this battle is about engaging this wrong thinking, taking hold of it, and countering it with a healthy dose of truth. In Precious Remedies against Satan’s Devices, Brooks explains seven ways to do this.
Growth is an essential and indisputable part of the Christian life. The apostle Paul wrote in his magnificent letter to the churches in Ephesus that they – and we – “are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ” (Eph. 4:15 ESV). We are alive in Christ. Living things grow.
Growth is good. It’s okay to want it. So, why does spiritual growth sometime seem so hard to achieve? Why is it so easy to get stuck, to feel like we aren’t progressing. And what can we do about it?
I’d like to offer three bits of advice, based on my recent discoveries. They’ve helped me. And I think they can help you, too.
What do we do when we feel the cultural current pulling us downstream? A strong Christian fights – not systems, not institutions, and definitely not our neighbors. We fight the internal battle, the turn of our hearts downstream. We fix our eyes on truth, and we paddle against the current. Hard. And little by little, we win. Puritan author Thomas Brooks helps us get there with a few bits of timeless advice.
We Christians can sometimes feel alone in our churches. Amidst the energy and vitality of worship, as the Holy Spirit moves the body to praise and revere God, it’s easy to become isolated in our fears and uncertainties. Doctrinal and stylistic differences can widen the gaps even further. Unconfessed sin can push us adrift, out into a sea of separation.
That may be exactly where our enemy wants us.
Predators seek out the isolated, the unprotected. A single target loses the benefit of the group’s combined strength. The greatest exodus in our churches may not be in waves of division but in one believer, then another, removed from the body, one by one.
Thomas Brooks understands this is a difficult reality. And so he offers several remedies against this device of Satan, to help us see that we are not alone. We can derive hope from recognizing the body of Christ all around us, across the street and across the world.